Bradstock all nerves but hoping Coneygree is still a potent force
Coral Punchestown Gold Cup | (Grade 1) | 5yo+ | 3m½f | RTE/ATR
Compared to Sizing John, Coneygree feels almost like a blast from the past.
The 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero has been sent to Punchestown with the Bradstocks yearning for him to show he is also a star in the present and one for the future as well.
The wisdom in sending Coneygree to the Gold Cup as a novice has been hammered home by what happened across the following two years.
The now ten-year-old has raced only twice since his finest hour, most recently when running a 15-length second to Cue Card in November's Betfair Chase.
A minor stress fracture was sustained at Haydock, underlining the fragility of a fabulous front-runner who will find ground conditions quicker than he would ideally appreciate when reunited with his Gold Cup-winning partner Nico de Boinville.
"I'm looking forward to it, but I'm always a bag of nerves, so all I really want is to see him come back safe and sound," said trainer Mark Bradstock's wife Sara.
"The secret with him is his focus. Without a warm-up race it's hard to know if that will be there. To perform at his best he needs to be completely switched on. Unfortunately, there's no way of knowing if he is or isn't until he gets to the races.
"If something does him for toe from the second-last, so be it. We know he isn't as fit as when he won the Gold Cup but he's probably slightly further forward than when he ran at Haydock, although it's difficult to be say for sure."
Bradstock added: "We would love him to win, but really would be happy for him to simply prove he still has it. From what he's done at home that looks to be the case, but you never really know until they run."
Pros His Gold Cup victory was a 4lb better performance than Sizing John's, according to Racing Post Ratings, which shows Coneygree has nothing to fear on the ability front.
Cons: Softer ground would be preferable, while connections would love to have been able to run him in a prep race.